Ethiopians have an opportunity at solidarity with Palestinians. Will they take it?

Israeli police remove an Ethiopian-Israeli from a demonstration on Ayalon Highway following the police shooting of Solomon Tekah, July 2, 2019. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Israeli police remove an Ethiopian-Israeli from a demonstration on Ayalon Highway following the police shooting of Solomon Tekah, July 2, 2019. (photo: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)
The plight of Ethiopian Israeli’s share similarities to Palestinian experiences yet there is a lack of connection to the shared experiences.

By Ashraf Ghandour | +972 Magazine  |  Jul 9, 2019

Palestinians do not need to be versed in political theory to know where the Ethiopian struggle is heading.

For over a week I have watched Ethiopian Israelis conduct a loud and righteous struggle against the systematic racism that has held them down for 35 years. As a Palestinian, as a person of color, I could not help but feel empathy for their pain, along with a strange sense of bewilderment when I saw Israelis of all stripes failing to connect the just struggle of Ethiopians to those of other groups oppressed by Israel.

But Solomon Tekah was shot because he was Black, and because I am a Palestinian I had to keep listening closely.

Tekah, a 19-year-old Ethiopian Israeli man, was shot in his own neighborhood last week by an off-duty police officer in a suburb of Haifa. Following the shooting, thousands of members of the Ethiopian community took to the streets to protest the way their people are being treated by law enforcement, in an attempt to draw public awareness to the oppression Israelis of Ethiopian decent have faced since they began immigrating to Israel in the mid-80s.

Yet the Israeli media immediately chose to focus on the violence and acts of vandalism by some Ethiopian protesters against police, including by dehumanizing the protesters and calling them “animals.” Much of the coverage revolved far more around the way white civilians were affected by the disruptions on Israel’s main roads than the plight of the protesters themselves.

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